Like many government agencies, school districts like to keep their
cards close to their chests, and don't like to hear from citizens.
In the Maura Larkins' case, Shinoff's
associate Kelly Angell told the judge,
regarding Chula Vista Elementary School
District's refusal to answer questions:
"I just can't answer them.  I can't answer
them and protect my client."
Link: See page 3 lines 7-9 of Dec. 31,
2002 transcript of discovery conference
in San Diego Superior Court case number
GIC 781970
Daniel Shinoff, the favorite lawyer of GUHSD and

The SDCOE-Joint Power Authority Director Diane Crosier favors Dan
Shinoff to represent school districts.  Does he act to benefit children?  Or
to promote a system that keeps dollars flowing to school attorneys
without solving school problems?
If you have trouble seeing the
pages of the transcript that
appears when you click on the
Dec. 31 2002 transcript link
above, I've discovered that the
text magically appears if you
click on the blank page where
it's supposed to be!  I'm a
novice at web design, so I really
don't know why it does this.  M.L.
Did Terry Ryan and Dan Shinoff represent the district, or do they
represent Jim Kelly?
San Diego Union Tribune article about the November 2006 school board
San Diego Union Tribune
Nov. 9, 2006
by Leonel Sanchez

"In the high school district race, Hoy, Sobel and Andrew Sundstrom, the other
candidate backed by the teachers union, complained after district
Superintendent Terry Ryan sent a telephone recording to parents in Santee
on Monday that they believe was meant to boost Kelly's candidacy.

"In the message, Ryan said Kelly did not support the proposed relocation of a
school for students with behavioral problems next to West Hills High School,
and had directed him to find other options.

"Dan Shinoff, the district's legal counsel, said the superintendent's
message was meant to be informational..."
cases lead to
more training
about conduct
By Leonel Sanchez
December 8, 2007

The Grossmont Union High
School District is
strengthening its teacher
conduct training in light of
three arrests of district
teachers on sex-related
charges involving students
during the past year.

“We're not looking the other
way,” district spokeswoman
Catherine Martin said. “It's a
terrible thing that has

[Maura's note: That's
a relief.  Looking the
other way is exactly
what Grossmont and
its lawyer, Daniel
Shinoff, did after two
shooting incidents
that killed two
students.  The
district refused to
have a conference on
school violence;
Shinoff denied that
bullying led to the

The cases shocked parents,
teachers and students at the
two East County schools
involved: West Hills High
School in Santee and Helix
Charter High School in La

The cases and other recent
arrests around the county –
including those of an
Eastlake High School
campus assistant and a La
Jolla Country Day School
basketball coach – have
happened at a time when
teacher sexual misconduct is
drawing national attention.

An Associated Press
investigation published last
month found that 2,570
educators nationwide,
including 313 in California,
were punished or removed
for sexual misconduct
between 2001 and 2005...

Charol Shakeshaft, an expert
on teacher sex abuse who
heads the educational
leadership department at
Virginia Commonwealth
University, said cases have
always existed but were

Last month,
John C. Holler, a
teacher for 15 years at West
Hills High, was arrested on
suspicion of molesting a 17-
year-old female student in his
car outside the school. A
friend of the student alerted
school administrators, who
contacted law enforcement...

On Thursday, former Helix
High music teacher and band
Jessica Ashley
Kahal, 22,
pleaded guilty to
having sex with a 17-year-old
male student and faces up to
one year in jail... Her
roommate reported the
relationship to authorities.

In February, former Helix High
assistant band director
Palumbo, 28,
pleaded guilty
to two charges of unlawful
sexual intercourse with a 17-
year-old student last
December and was placed
on five years' probation.

The girl's father reported the
relationship to authorities...

A sheriff's sex crimes
investigator, crisis
counselors and
lawyer who
advises the
district on
employee conduct
will lead the
which will be
in addition to regular
sexual harassment
training, Martin said.

[Note: Is Dan Shinoff
the "lawyer who
advises the district on
employee conduct"
the same one who has
made a career out of
denying that students
were abused, and
saying "she wanted it"
(regarding a special
education student in
Sweetwater UHSD)?  
See also Fred Kamper
Shirk case.]

Staff members are instructed
from the outset of their
employment about proper
behavior around students,
Martin said. All employees
are fingerprinted and undergo
background checks before
they are hired.

Helix High principal Doug
Smith said there is high
awareness of the issue at his
school. He questioned
whether more training is the

[Maura's note: How
about creating an
atmosphere where
issues are discussed
openly and honestly?
That would require
keeping lawyers AWAY
The board wants to make sure that there is no special rule protecting kids
who are attacked because someone thinks they are gay.

Similarly, if a kid is molested by a heterosexual, the district will likely rise
to the defense of the perpetrator.

Why?  Because their insurance company lawyers want them to.  
SDCOE-JPA lawyers like Daniel Shinoff will be called in to say things like,
"She wanted it," or "The district is protected from responsibility."

Looks like it's pretty much open season on all kids, whether they are
straight or gay.  None of them are safe.
Superintendent Terry Ryan, and one board member, Jim Kelly, want to
have access to legal counsel at district expense for themselves. They also
want to limit access by other BOARD MEMBERS to information about the
district, and want to prevent other board members from visiting schools
without notifying Ryan!

It seems a safe bet that taxpayers will pay a lot of money to school
attorneys to defend the antics of Ryan and Kelly.
(See San Diego Union Tribune editorial March 16, 2006)

Update March 2007:
Terry Ryan announced he will retire.
Grossmont Union High School District
This would be an acceptable response in a criminal case.  CVESD could
refuse to say anything that would incriminate it, as provided by the
Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  

But this is not acceptable in a civil case.  If the school board and
administration have crimes to hide, they should resign.  Otherwise,
they should reveal what they've been doing.
Grossmont High School
District, if it sticks to
past practice, will
eschew responsibility
for the child molestation
cases in the article
Legal Issues at GUHSD
2006 Election
San Diego Union-Tribune
Sobel, Hoy and Sundstrom
for Grossmont Union board
October 5, 2006

What is not to like about a school
board candidate who has helped
raise millions for La Mesa parks, a
college district and Grossmont High
School, developed an SAT
preparation program, been a
member of two solid bond oversight
committees, served as blue ribbon
commissioner for a high school
district, coached high school teams
and is a lawyer and judge pro tem?

Those credentials belong to Ken
Sobel, a candidate for Grossmont
Union High School District.

Most school board presidents would
jump to get someone that
experienced on the board. Not in
dysfunctional Grossmont Union,
however, where control is
paramount, not quality of education
or management of taxpayer dollars.

President Jim Kelly, who has
brought four years of
contentiousness to this district and a
decade to the county district before
that, is seeing control slip away from
him. He's in an election race with five
other candidates after losing two
allies on the board who chose not to

On the ballot are Sobel, retired
teacher Richard Hoy, school
custodian Andrew Sundstrom,
engineer Shari Groce, teacher
Robert Shield and Kelly.

Consider whom this district is failing
to serve:

Parents and students, particularly at
Steele Canyon, making its second
attempt to break away from the
district and become a charter
school, and charter school Helix
High, seeking to sever its few
remaining ties with the district.

Taxpayers, who entrusted the district
with $274 million of bond money. But
the district decided to manage
construction in-house and lost its
two top executives. Then, the citizen
oversight committee it named failed
repeatedly to meet for lack of a

Alpine residents, who have longed
for a high school of their own for
more than a decade. This district,
under Superintendent Terry Ryan,
has no desire for an Alpine campus
and is only going through the
motions. Meantime, the Alpine
school proponents who are trying to
woo the district can only be nice, not

Last December the district launched
a proposal to go all charter, widely
seen as a ploy to divert attention
from the breakaway attempts. In
April, Supt. Ryan said nothing was
being done on the all-charter plan. In
late July, he recanted his previous
statement. (One of Ryan's
statements was accurate; we
suspect everyone knows which one
that is.)

Recently, the new deputy
superintendent for business
services said the district did not run
up as many years of deficit spending
in the last seven years as previously
thought. Question: If Grossmont
Union High School District does not
know whether it is going in the red
year after year, who does?

Kelly likes to demonize his
opponents: The cause of
the district's problems are
liberals or Democrats or
teacher unions – anyone but
whom he sees in the mirror.
Desperate for allies, though,
Kelly has endorsed Shield, a
member of the teachers
union negotiating
committee in another

We like Sobel for his
extensive record of service.
An attorney, he understands
the district is wasting money
by hiring five separate law
Simply building an alumni
database, Sobel said, would allow
the district to grow donations many
times over.

Hoy, now retired, won honors during
his career as a teacher. He has
been involved with the Grossmont
Education Association in labor
negotiations. The district's all-charter
plan? “I think it's dead. You can't
impose charters from the top down.”

Sundstrom is a parent and school
custodian making his third try for the
board. He would like to strengthen
the district's vocational education
programs and supports an Alpine
high school.

This election is indeed about control.
It is about East County taxpayers
taking back control of their school

We endorse Ken Sobel, Richard Hoy
and Andrew Sundstrom.
This website agrees with the
endorsements below, but notes that
the Union-Tribune has protected
one of the five law firms mentioned,
Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz, from
unfavorable publicity.  It would
appear that the UT wants to get rid
of one or more of the other firms.
from San Diego Growth Blog

"From: xxxx
To: <>
Subject: RE: GrossmontUHSD application?: Quatum Meruit: Alpine's finest
sued again...
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 18:58:55 +0000

"Of course it matters who we elect.  T Ryan¢s administration of GUHSD and
Prop H was incompetent.  The Board of Trustees proved incompetent too by
exercising zero oversight (made abundantly clear by the Bond Advisory
Committee¢s Finance Report).

"Ryan became superintendent in part by virtue of church connections
with trustee Kelly; who also knew Ryan from the undistinguished
tenures of both of them in the County Office of Education..."
San Diego Education
Report Blog
Site Map
2006 Election
Power shifts to Hoy,
Schreiber and Urdahl
By Leonel Sanchez
San Diego Union Tribune
November 9, 2006

EL CAJON – The election appears
to have shifted the balance of
power in East County's high school
district, while it left the community
college district much the same.

Grossmont Union High School
District Board President Jim Kelly
was re-elected to a second term on
the five-member board, but only
one of the two candidates he
supported, Robert Shield, a
Lakeside middle school teacher,
was elected with him...
Election 2008 results
Blog posts re Helix
Charter High School

Web page Helix High

Josh Stepner
rescues girl
and is fired,
proving no
good deed
(see declaration of
abandoned girl; also  at
bottom of this page)
East County     
Date Filed:      06/30/2009
Category: CU WM  Writ of Mandate

Aide is to have time sheet to Barbara Heilchuck, at the special
education district office by the last working day of the month.

Why This Website

Stutz Artiano Shinoff
& Holtz v. Maura
Larkins defamation



Castle Park Elem

Law Enforcement



Stutz Artiano Shinoff
& Holtz

Silence is Golden

Schools and Violence

Office Admin Hearings

Larkins OAH Hearing
Grossmont Union High
School District

Grades: 9-12

Schools: 12

Students: 24,788

Employees: 2,454

Area served: 470 square

Student ethnicity: white 53%,
Hispanic 26%, black 7%

Per pupil spending: $8,290

Current budget: $212.6
(as of 2006)
Former Supt. Terry Ryan revealed GUHSD's relationship to its
handles issues
of sex abuse
Irony: teaching students not to cheat

Character education program gets started
By Leonel Sanchez
October 6, 2008

EAST COUNTY – East County's largest school district has introduced a character
education program that aims to reduce cheating and other bad conduct by promoting
ethical behavior.

“What you allow, you encourage,” said ethics expert Michael Josephson, who is working
with the Grossmont Union High School District on the Character Counts program. “It's
about helping kids form better values, make better choices.”

The Josephson Institute of Ethics plans to release in a few weeks its 2008 national survey
of student attitudes and behavior.

Two years ago, the institute's survey of more than 30,000 students showed alarming rates
of cheating, lying and theft at schools across the United States.

Six out of 10 high school students said they had cheated at least once during a test during
the past year.

One out of three high school students said they had copied an Internet document for a
classroom assignment.

Two in 10 high school students said they had stolen from a friend...
Declaration of 16-year-old girl in Josh Stepner case at Helix Charter
High School
"I...request a restraining order against my mother..."
See detailed stories and updates at blog posts about GUHSD
No Safety for
Gay Students?
And no respect for the
law?  Board members
can not be taken
seriously as authority
figures when they
themselves have no
respect for authority

Bulk of school board
against law shielding
gay, lesbian students
By Leonel Sanchez
an Diego Union
December 13, 2007

EAST COUNTY – A majority
of the Grossmont high
school district board is
working with conservative
groups trying to overturn an
anti-discrimination law that
aims to tighten protection
for gay, lesbian and
transgender students.

Last month,
four of the five
board members joined a
federal lawsuit challenging
the new law
unconstitutionally vague and
a violation of privacy rights...

Despite joining the lawsuit,
the trustees haven't taken
an official position as a
board on the law. Tonight,
they will consider a
resolution to r
equest a
legal interpretation of the
and its use from
state justice and
educational officials...

Grossmont boards have
had heated debates about
homosexual issues over
the years. In 1999, the
board approved expanding
the district's anti-
discrimination policy to
include sexual orientation.
Board President Priscilla
Schreiber – who wasn't on
the board at the time – led
an unsuccessful attempt to
recall a board member who
voted for the policy.

Schreiber and trustees Jim
Kelly, Larry Urdahl and
Robert Shield are plaintiffs
in the lawsuit filed by the
California Education
Committee and Advocates
for Faith and Freedom, a
religious-liberties group.

State education law bans
all forms of discrimination
but doesn't specifically
mention discrimination
based on gender or sexual
orientation. The new law,
signed by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger in
October, will remove the
term “sex” as a
classification and add
“gender” and “sexual

...“It's a form of
indoctrination when you
bring that into the schools,”
Schreiber said. “It's social
Some of the district's lawsuits:
Hazing by Santana Coach
Schools and Violence
Board members 2010

Dick Hoy
Jim Kelly
Priscilla Schreiber
Robert Shield
Dr. Gary Woods

Ralf Swenson

Recent former superintendents
Donald Haught Ed.D. (Interim)
Robert Collins
The upshot of the 2008 election was
that power on the board swung back
to extremist Jim Kelly.

Miriam Raftery wrote in East County
Magazine in October 2008,  "...The
new board majority led by Schreiber
conducted a national search for new
superintendent Robert Collins, who
has won praise from teachers in a
districtwide survey.  As the Union-
Tribune phrased it in an editorial
endorsing Schreiber and Urdahl, “A
bumbling superintendent recruited by
Kelly retired and was replaced by one
with impeccable credentials and real
vision.”  Schreiber warns, “This
election will determine whether we
keep this superintendent.  I think
there could be an effort to remove the
superintendent through a buyout we
can’t afford.”...
2008 Election
Jade Ray v. Heather Hargett (blog post)
Jade Ray v. Heather Hargett (blog post)

Hazing by Santana Coach

Santana High School
Jade Ray v. Heather Hargett
(blog post)
Hazing by Santana Coach
Schools and Violence
New Supe in Grossmont Schools...
by Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego
June 29, 2010

San Diego Unified isn't the only local school district with a new superintendent: Grossmont Union High
School District announced today that it has tentatively chosen
Ralf Swenson, a longtime
educator who previously served as the superintendent of Nevada Joint Union High School District, as its
new leader...

Swenson new Grossmont school district superintendent
By Karen Pearlman
July 8, 2010

...Swenson replaces Robert Collins, who was hired in 2007 after 40 years with the Los Angeles Unified
School District. Collins left the Grossmont district to take a post at an international education

Swenson comes from the Nevada Joint Union High School District, which has an enrollment of about
4,000 students in the Northern California community of Grass Valley. Grossmont has about 24,000
students and 2,300 employees...

Swenson, who turns 55 on Tuesday, is scheduled to begin work in August. His salary will be $222,000 a
Blog posts re GUHSD
Student booted in Bible flap suing school district
San Diego
Education Report